Seniors, be extraordinary

What a bitter-sweet moment it is to be bidding you all adieu. It’s been an absolute pleasure to have written for you all these past few years and an honor to think that a few of you may have even entertained my unprovoked tirades on the regular. Yes, how exciting and heartbreaking it is to greet this day, this end of an era. But, the time has come, so let’s make the most of it. I hope that you’ll hang in there for these final thoughts.

A time of transition: that’s what, perhaps, best describes this point in life. This sort of major change is enough to scare the “lion heart” right out of us, and the thought of getting lost in the hustle and bustle or rhythm of everyday life in the workforce is the material from which night terrors are made. One day you’re making a Facebook post about your first big-boy job, and the next, 25 years has passed and you’re still working every day to make someone else’s dream come true.

A bleak image, no doubt, but that’s what life’s about: HARD WORK! Maybe. Life is, of course, sure to be full of many days and years of hard work, but we ought to think critically about what that hard work aims to accomplish. Think beyond what hard work means for you in terms of what you can buy, what you can consume, as a result. Shouldn’t we want more than that? Whatever happened to changing the world, you guys? Those aren’t just childish ideals, this is real life stuff.

A Catholic perspective might suggest that our purpose in life is to love, and to love is to live radically. A non-Catholic perspective might suggest the same. If we are to love, to live beyond the convenience of our own self-preservation, then we must realize that money is not the way to love people. Even working to get rich so that we can give to charity is fundamentally wrong if we are, at the same time, a cog in the wheel of the giant system that makes charity a necessity in the first place.

What a shame it would be to arrive at the end of life and only have “things” to show for it. Let’s seek more than that. Sometimes being a Christian, or simply being a global citizen, requires us to be naive on purpose — to give when it blatantly doesn’t appear to benefit us.

To live might be to rid ourselves of anything that prevents us from loving, anything that causes us to hesitate. Whether that be social rules, material items, money or time, we have to realize that we literally created all of those things! These are not the giant, impossible, ungraspable “others” that have always been. Time, social norms, economy … they’re all a part of a giant system of “pretend” that we’ve created. When the time comes, choose to put people first. Just because we’ve never dreamed of a world without these things doesn’t mean it can’t exist.

Look for meaningful work that doesn’t rely on the perpetuation of mass consumerism. Capitalism is bound to hit a wall. One day, we simply won’t be able to consume more, produce more or expand more. One day, we’ll have to realize that having enough, is well, enough. In reflecting on recent world affairs, that day is probably coming a lot sooner than we think.

Lastly, if nothing else, live extraordinarily. I don’t want to read about people who achieved great feats in bringing about major change forever; I’d like to be one of those people. Or, maybe, befriend one of those people. Four years ago, I was a shy coward who always played it safe, but just a couple of days ago, someone told me I had a lion heart. This column, along with your feedback and participation, has served as a major stage and soundboard in providing space for that to happen. And now, I’m struck by the realization that my last transition point, from high school to college, has changed and formed me so much. For that, I feel (mostly) grateful, and I hope that many of you feel the same about your four years at Loras. But now this is the transition between college and, well, life. Let’s go all out. In the words of George Randall Feeny, “Believe in yourselves, dream, try, do good.”

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